Barristers serve family law clients well - new Bar Standards Board research

Barristers are serving their family law clients well and clients who take advantage of direct access develop stronger relationships with their barristers, according to new research commissioned by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

The BSB published the findings of its research with people who have used barristers’ services during family legal proceedings.

Interviews with respondents who used a barrister highlighted the following:

  • Most clients were positive about the service they received from their barrister;
  • Although the proportion of those who directly accessed a barrister via the public access scheme was low, the research suggests this led to a stronger barrister/client relationship, clients were more likely to access a greater range of services from their barrister, and all of those who used this approach would use the scheme again; but
  • Some clients referred by solicitors highlighted the limited contact they had with their barrister before going to court, and that this led to problems with the service they received, such as the barrister not providing enough information to the client, or the barrister not having all the details they needed to provide effective representation.

A wider survey amongst people with a family law issue, showed that:

  • More than half of the respondents said they were not confident about making an informed decision on who to turn to for legal advice at the start of their family law matter;
  • Understanding of the role of barristers in the family law process was reasonably good and more than two-thirds (69 per cent) were aware that they can directly access some barristers without the need for a solicitor; and
  • Looking ahead, a majority of all respondents said that they would consider using a barrister for legal advice in the future.

BSB Director of Policy and Strategy Ewen MacLeod said: “We are pleased that most of the respondents who used a barrister for a family law matter were satisfied with the level of service that they received. But our survey also shows that many people facing a family law matter are unable to access appropriate legal advice for a variety of reasons. They may choose to represent themselves in court or turn to unregulated advisors for help.” 

Family Law Barrister - myBarrister